It’s a hot topic. I get asked several times a week what “we” should do about our brothers and sisters in the Muslim world who are being persecuted.
Before we go further, stop and take three minutes to read this article about Christians in Syria being persecuted. It’s by the brilliant Eric Metacas – whose book “Bonhoeffer” I’m reading now. Read this – and then come back to the blog.
Not sure if you caught the fallacy or not. Eric makes the mistake so many of us are tempted to make. He lumps everything under two big words: “Christian” and “Persecution.” When you put those two words together and throw it into a Muslim context, you evoke a ton of emotion – I believe, unfairly.
Let me first (and perhaps most importantly) say this – ANY persecution or killing for ANY reason by ANYone, is not the way of Jesus and should be stood against. And there are some cases of Muslims persecuting people for their faith in Jesus as the Christ. That should not be and we a responsibility to stand up for our brothers and sisters in faith.
I would like to propose the following:
We, as followers of Jesus, should stand up for anyone who is being hurt, killed or persecuted. There is no direct command in all of the scripture to do this only for other Christians.
We, as followers of Jesus, need to look more deeply at roots and causes of all so-called “persecution” before we start throwing around accusations. These Christians in Syria (and there are about 10% of the population who bear that name), are, in fact, at times our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should love them and support them as we would any other brother or sister. But many of them are cultural Christians. They were born that way. They are NOT being persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God – they are being hurt or killed because of a nasty political situation.
We, as followers of Jesus, rise above the noise of the media calling for this or that action. We see and understand nuance. We know that the Christian populations of Iraq and Egypt were probably better off under evil dictators (Hussein and Mubarak). As unfortunate and ironic as that is – it’s true. When those two evil forces are removed, the historical Christian population is seen as siding with the West (the “Christian West), even though that’s often not true, and so they are persecuted.
But NOT for their faith (typically), but for their (mis)perceived political allegiance with America.
We, then – those who try to follow Jesus – will stand against any and all injustice and “persecution” for any reason, committed by anyone. But we will understand the vital nuanced differences between killing for political reasons and persecution for reasons of faith. Something Mr. Metaxas didn’t take into account.